Computed Tomography (CT) Scans

Radiology

CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) Scan is a diagnostic tool which is utilized for viewing various body parts, from bones to organs and blood vessels. The CT scanner acquires images in the axial plane and sends the data to a computer which has the ability to manipulate the date so that the information can then be viewed and reconstructed into coronal and sagittal planes as needed. We even have the capability to produce 3D images of the body. Certain CT studies require the use of oral contrast, such as abdomen and pelvis exams, the oral contrast is use to help fill the bowel with contrast, so the radiologist can tell what is bowel and what is not. Some studies require the utilization of IV contrast so that we are able to follow the blood flow of certain organs and blood vessels. The use of Oral and IV contrast is often necessary so that our radiologist is able to distinguish between normal and abnormal anatomy.

The majority of CT scans usually take five to fifteen minutes; in addition to the scan time, this timeframe will allow our technologists to capture all of the necessary information and images that will enable our radiologists to make an accurate diagnosis for you and your physician.

Sedation may be required for a CT scan, the need for sedation will depend on the specific exam that your doctor has asked us to perform. In most instances, our CT technologist will attempt to perform the scan without using sedation, as our scanner is very fast. Our technical staff will always use the lowest possible amount of radiation dose when scanning, at the same time, our radiologist will be provided with a scan that has all of the necessary information to provide a comprehensive report to your physician.

Some of the most common CT exams include:

  • Abdomen & Pelvis: The abdomen & pelvis CAT scan includes the organs and vessels of the stomach, liver, spleen, kidneys, bladder, and bowel. This study is might be done utilizing IV contrast, oral contrast, or both IV and oral, or without contrast. The need for using contrast, as well as what type of contrast we use is dependent upon the order that your doctor has provided. The patient will need to drink the oral contrast over a four hour time span and is not able to eat or drink anything other than the contrast during this time period until the scan is complete. The test consists of two series of images; the first being a scout image used for planning of the second series. The second series will take five to twenty seconds depending on the size of the patient. The patient will be instructed to hold their breath so that the pictures are not blurry. The images will be reconstructed into sagittal and coronal planes so that our radiologist is able to provide an accurate diagnosis for the ordering physician. Depending on the age of the patient, sedation might be required for this test.
  • Angiography: CT angiography may be performed on any body part. It is utilized to view vessels of a given region, either in the arterial or venous phase. This test requires placement of an IV by a nurse so that IV contrast can be given. The test consists of two or more series of pictures depending on the order that your physician has provided to us; or any special instructions given by our radiologist. The first set of images are used in planning the second set of images. The second series will be a five to ten second exposure depending on patient size. The images will be reconstructed after the scan and will provide information for our radiologist to interpret the study. Depending on patient age, sedation might be required for this test.
  • Brain: This study looks at the bones of the skull and soft tissue of the brain. The test is usually comprised of two series of images. The first series is considered the scout images; these images provide a road map for the second set of images. The second set of images is a series of exposures which produce 2 to 4 images per exposure. The second series consists of 10-20 exposures. Depending on the diagnosis, IV contrast might be needed.
  • Cardiac: A cardiac CT is performed in order to evaluate the coronary arteries and function of the heart. This exam requires that our nurse insert an IV so that we may administer contrast. Because it is very important that the heart is not beating more than 75 beats per minute during this exam, it might be necessary to provide the patient with a beta blocker prior to performing the study. The Beta blocker is used to assist in lowering the heart rate to the ideal rate desired for the exam. The beta blocker is ordered by the ordering physician. The test consists of two series of pictures, the first being a scout or planning image. The second series will be dependent on patient size and heart rate. The images will be reconstructed into sagittal and coronal planes after the scan. We will also provide a three dimensional rendering of the heart with special attention to the coronary arteries for the radiologist and ordering physician. Depending on patient age sedation might be required for this test.
  • Cervical Spine: This scan acquires images of the bones of the neck, the spinal canal, and the base of the skull. The test consists of two series of pictures, the first being a scout or planning image. The second series will be a five to ten second exposure depending on patient size. The images will be reconstructed into sagittal and coronal planes for our radiologist and ordering physician. Depending on patient age, sedation might be required for this test.
  • Chest: This exam details the anatomy of the chest, including the heart, lungs, and vessels. Depending on what the doctor is looking for, this exam might be performed with contrast. The test consists of two series of pictures, the first being a scout or planning image. The second series consists of a five to ten second exposure depending on the size of the patient. The patent will be instructed to hold their breath to limit motion. The images will be reconstructed into sagittal and coronal planes for interpretation by our radiologist. Depending on patient age sedation might be required for this test.
  • Mastoids: A scan of the mastoids will reveal if there is fluid in the mastoid air cells. The test consists of two series of images; the first being a scout or planning image for the second series. The second series is an exposure that will take four to nine seconds depending on the size of the patient. The images will be reconstructed in various planes and will display both the right and left inner ear. In an effort to eliminate any patient motion, sedation might be required.
  • Neck: A neck CT is performed for viewing the anatomy of the neck region, which includes the tonsils, airway, veins, arteries, and thyroid. This scan is often performed with IV contrast and is dependent upon what your physician has requested. The test consists of two series of pictures, the first being a scout or planning image. The second series will be a five to ten second exposure depending on patient size. The images will be reconstructed into sagittal and coronal planes for our radiologist and ordering physician. Depending on the age of the patient, sedation might be required for this test.
  • Sinus: A CT sinus exam views the four sets of sinuses: maxillary, frontal, sphenoid, and ethmoid. The test usually consists of two series of images. The first set of pictures are known as the scout images, these will provide a road map for the second series of images. The second series of images are acquired in one exposure, this is a fast scan and the time to complete this sequence is typically five seconds. After the scan, our technologist processes the images on a workstation, thereby providing our physician with multiple views of the images that were acquired. In most cases, because this scan is quick, there is not usually a need for sedation.
  • Temporal Bones: A CT of the temporal bones shows the small tiny bones inside the inner ear. The scan consists of two series of pictures. The first being a scout or planning image for the second series; the second series is an exposure lasting four to nine seconds depending on the size of the patient. The images will be reconstructed in coronal and axial images showing the left and right inner ear. Due to the complexity of the inner ear and the need to eliminate all motion, sedation might be necessary. 
  • Surgical plan for Thoracic and Lumbar spine (Scoliosis): The surgical plan CT scan of the spine acquires images of the spine and spinal canal. The scan is comprised of two series of pictures, the first being a scout or planning image. The second series will be a five to ten second exposure depending on patient size. The images will be reconstructed into sagittal and coronal planes, plus 3D rendering of the spine by our technologist after the scan. Depending on patient age, sedation might be required for this test.